Sunday, November 7, 2010

I am not a quitter

Leading up to today's race - the Amica 19.7 triathlon in Lake Pleasant - I felt confident. I'd been in Bartlett Lake a couple weeks ago and swam 300 or so yards easily, without stopping for breath. I felt calm, confident and like a swimmer.

This morning, I took that confidence with me right up to the start.

As we walked down the boat ramp into the water, I was smiling and talking with other female athletes. "Is this your first?" That's a common conversation opener at these events.

I waded into the water and noted that it was, in fact, still quite warm. I'd held my bladder for an hour by then, in anticipation of using it to warm myself up in my wetsuit. Ew, I know, but don't knock it until you try it.

Within 5 minutes, we were off, splashing our way to the first buoy. I had problems immediately. My wetsuit was tight and restricting my breathing. Never a problem before, but today it's a problem. I can't breathe, and the water is incredibly choppy. Not only that, but there are arms and legs everywhere. Each time I lift my head to breathe and sight to the buoy, I take in gulps of water. My heart starts racing, and I find myself gulping for air. I roll onto my back and I'm fighting back tears.

I try a few backstrokes and get tossed around in the water. I'm now feeling sea sick and dizzy. I turn back around, tread water and see that the sea of lime green swim caps has left me way behind.


I don't want to be last.

Even more shit.

I don't want to be in this friggin' water.

A lifeguard paddles over and asks if I'm ok.

No, I'm not. I want out. She suggests that I loosen my wetsuit and tells me she'll paddle along side me to the end. Really? OK. Don't give up, she tells me. Her name is Rachel.

I do a few arm strokes calmly, then suddenly my heart rate is racing again. I flip on my back and little angel Rachel is gone.

I try a few more strokes and realize that I'm in way over my head. Literally. I doggy paddle to a guy in a kayak and tell him I want out.

I wasn't ready for this today. I have more work to do.

I was OK with my decision until I got back to my transition spot and saw a text message from my son. That brought up a flood of tears in anticipation of telling him I'd quit. I don't want him to think it's OK to quit just because something is too hard. But I also can't lie.

When I got home today, I looked at my heart rate monitor and learned that my heart rate got as high as 211 in the water today. My max heart rate when I bike is usually around 155-160; when I run it's in the 170s. When I swim, it barely breaks 120s. Except today. Today, I was in a zone I thought I'd swam out of months ago.

I have work to do.

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